Tybee Bomb Report Released

A Mk 15 bomb, like the one lost.
A Mk 15 bomb, like the one lost.

Where is the bomb off the coast of Tybee? After years of searching and thousands of tests, US military experts say it poses no danger, but they still don't have any idea where it is. Until new information surfaces or we get better technology, the search for the Tybee bomb is over.

And experts say that is the best thing for public safety.

In September, nuclear experts, military officials and Georgia environmental experts searched for the Tybee bomb based on some high radiation reports they received from a Tybee bomb researcher.

"We found nothing to indicate we know where the Mk 15 is," said Dr. Billy Mullins of the US Air Force.

Dr. Mullins says the radiation levels in Wassaw sound are naturally occurring and are not any higher than levels found in other places along Georgia's coast. The radiation would need to be ten to 20 times the levels they found before experts say they would be alarmed.

"We've got the best equipment to do this sort of thing," Dr. Mullins said.

Based on the weight of the bomb and the speed it fell from the sky, experts believe the bomb is buried in at least 17 feet of mud on the ocean floor. They say that's too deep for a hurricane to stir it up, too deep for a boat anchor to hit it and detonate it, too deep for shrimp or any other sea creatures to nibble on it and then end up on our plates.

And it's too deep to locate it without doing a lot of digging. And digging for the bomb would be dangerous to the environment. "You have nature preserves around that sound so as you dig up that sea floor you are causing an environmental impact with all the mud being stirred up," said Dr. Mullins.

And it would be a danger to the economy. "To all the fisherman that go though it to get to the Atlantic, none of the public can use the Wassaw sound while we are out there so there in impact to the public and economy."

And to the diggers. "If you hit the Mk 15, you are on top of it with this big equipment, bigger than a boat anchor, you could detonate the explosives."

In a nutshell, the experts say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. "I'd tell them they should have been resting easy for the past 50 years," said Dr. Mullins.

The man who got military involved in the Tybee bomb search, retired Air Force Lt. Colonel and Statesboro resident Derek Duke, said he is satisfied with the report. Chatham County Commission chairman Pete Liakakis says he is too.

You can see the report for yourself online:

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com